Preseason Preview #15: New Orleans Pelicans

Season Goal: Make the Playoffs

With tons of trade rumors surrounding Anthony Davis, the Pelicans need to prove they can remain competitive. They experienced one of their best seasons in a while last year but lost Rondo and Cousins in the offseason. Losing two important starters in a loaded Western Conference is a major blow. But, on the bright side, they added Elfrid Payton and Julius Randle, allowing them to improve their depth. Also being able to play Davis at center should increase his impact and the team’s pace. So there’s no way to know how much their offseasons losses will affect them until the season starts. But, if the Pelicans want to resign AD when his contract expires they need to be able to compete every year and build a competent around him

Storylines:

AD’s Future

With three years left on his contract, it seems too early to think about his future, but the rumors are already everywhere. Whether it’s saying he’ll be traded to the Celtics or sign with the Lakers or Bulls, there is endless speculation on his future. First, it’s important to look at his current situation and the chance of him staying.

Entering his 7th NBA season, Anthony Davis has established himself as an MVP candidate for the Pelicans. Coming off of a career-best year in points, assists, 3-point percentage, and effective field goal percentage the hype around him makes a lot of sense. Additionally, he averaged an insane 30 and 13 with 2.3 blocks per game in the playoffs. Having the team built around him allows him to put up these insane stats, but has not led to postseason success.

Currently, the situation in New Orleans is good but far from great. Last season he played his first year with a second all-star on his team. Unfortunately, that all-star tore his Achilles and signed with the Warriors this offseason. That left Davis with a roster full of extremely average talent. Jrue Holiday had a very good season last year but constantly struggles to stay healthy. Nikola Mirotic is a great shooter and was very impressive in the playoffs, but is not even close to being a star. The offseason signings of Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton brought in two young players who haven’t quite figured it out in the NBA. Altogether, this roster is almost the definition of mediocre.

Luckily, they still have a chance to convince AD to stay. The Pelicans only have two contracts on the books in 2020, Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. This gives them plenty of financial flexibility to make moves in an attempt to get Davis to stay. This may be a big free agent signing or a trade next year involving their expiring contracts. Whatever the move is, the Pelicans need to make it. Davis is a generational talent and if they lose him they will end up being a bottom 5 team in the league once again. Hopefully, Davis can find the career success he’s looking for in New Orleans, but only time will tell what the future has in store.

Depth Chart:

PG: Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton, Jarrett Jack, Frank Jackson

SG: E’Twaun Moore, Ian Clark

SF: Solomon Hill, Darius Miller, Troy Williams

PF: Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle, Cheick Diallo

C: Anthony Davis, Alexis Ajinca, Jahlil Okafor

Salary Cap Situation:

~116M of ~101M cap committed

Expiring Deals: Nikola Mirotic, Elfrid Payton, Jarrett Jack, Ian Clark, Darius Miller, Alexis Ajinca

Bad Contracts: Solomon Hill (2yrs, 25M)

*All salary data via sportrac*

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